McCloud River Railroad Company
Locomotive #2

Stearns 3-Truck Heisler
Unknown c/n (Likely 1013)
Drivers- 40"
Cylinders- 18x15
Weight- 120,000 lbs.
Boiler Pressure- 170 lbs.
Tractive Effort- 24,000 lbs.

The #2 was McCloud's first real experiment with trying to find a locomotive big enough to move heavy lumber trains up the steep grades while yet being nimble enough to negotiate the many curves and lightly built track. Several manufacturers had developed gear driven steam locomotives in the later 1800s to operate on sharp curves, steep grades, and rough trackwork typical of many logging railroads, and around 1890 a talented mechanical engineer named Charles Heisler came up with plans for a new type designed to rectify some of the identified weaknesses of the older designs. Heisler built his first locomotive in 1891, received a patent on the design in 1892, and assigned the patent to the Stearns Manufacturing Company by 1894. The #2 marked a technological innovation of sorts as it was one of the first two 3-truck Heislers built, and as such it got a substantial amount of period press. Unfortunately it initially suffered from numerous mechanical problems and spent more time either waiting for replacement parts to arrive from the east or getting repaired in Southern Pacific's shops in Dunsmuir than it did in service. Even when operable the machine failed to live up to expectations; for example, the railroad complained in one letter to Stearns in later 1898 that the #2 would only haul six cars of green lumber up the grade west of McCloud when they thought it should haul more. The problems caused the railroad to apparently banish the #2 to the logging railroad east of McCloud and rid itself of the locomotive by early 1900.

A drawing of the #2 that appeared in an article about the machine in a 1900 edition of Engineering News. The inclined cylinders drove the drive shaft that ran the length of the locomotive, which in turned powered one of the axles in each truck. The side rods transferred the power to the other axle.

Engineering drawings of the #2, also from Engineering News, showing the cross section of Heisler's drive system and other details.

Below is some text in the 9 December 1897 Engineering News about the Heisler locomotive. Glen Comstock collection.

 An ad from the June 1899 American Lumberman featuring the #2. Note the 1900 drawing at the top of the page is based on this photo. Glen Comstock collection.


Another ad, this one from the 22 Aug 03 American Lumberman.  Add features the same picture as the earlier add. Glen Comstock collection.

The #2 with a log train, probably somewhere on the Ash Creek Line. This is one of only three known photos of the #2 in service on the McCloud River; another one in a private collection features the #2 with six lumber loads, and the third is in the collection of the California State Library and is available on the internet at this link, select "View 9" from the menu on the left side of the page. Photo courtesy of the Heritage Junction Museum of McCloud, Inc.

A zoomed in view on the locomotive from the same photo as above. Jeff Moore collection.